If you’re a serious crafter, you know that it can be hard to find just the right yarn for a project. Whether you can’t find a fluffy enough single-ply, or a dense enough multi-ply, there are sometimes too many yarns and not enough options! However, there’s an easy solution–if you can’t find it, make it.
Hand spinning, the ancient art of turning piles of fluffy wool, silk, or other fiber into yarn, has seen a resurgence in popularity in the last few years as crafters look for solutions for ever more complex crafting needs. With the sheer number of crafting options out there, sometimes you just need to know that the right stuff is to hand, no matter what.
Spinning Your Own
There are many ways to spin your own yarn. If you’re just starting out, the best thing to do is often to get yourself a spindle and some fiber and start practicing. Youtube is a great resource full of spinning videos. If you’re looking for specific teachers, Abby Franquemont is a world-famous spinner who grew up in the Peruvian hills, learning spinning along with all the other little girls in her home village. She’s a great resource all along your spinning journey. Her books, blog, and Youtube videos are a great place to get all kinds of knowledge about spinning.
Spindles are fascinating objects with a long, venerable history. As simple as a dowel and a knob at the bottom, or as intricate as a fancy resin whorl with flowers, spindles are as wildly diverse as the societies that use them. From the delicate tahkli to the sturdy dealgan, you’re sure to collect many spindles on your spinning journey!
Once you’ve gotten comfortable with a spindle and you know you’re safely addicted to spinning, it’s time to look into getting a wheel. If you’re happy on your spindle, more power to you! Because wheels are expensive. There are two basic types–the Saxony wheel, which is the kind you probably think of when you think of a spinning wheel in fairy tales, and a castle wheel, which is a purely vertical machine. The Saxony wheel has a sloping bed that holds the wheel and the flyer off to the side, usually the left. The Castle-style wheels are all one long straight line with the flyer at the top, the wheel in the middle, and the treadle (or double treadle) at the bottom. All spinning wheels are powered with a treadle, a foot pedal that definitely takes some getting used to as there is a special rhythm involved.
Another option for more experienced spinners is the e-spinner, a spinning wheel that is electric and therefore does all the work for you. These are often much more affordable, and smaller, usually fitting on a tabletop. They are perfect for spinners who can’t use their legs, get tired easily for various reasons, or just don’t want to go to the trouble of using a traditional treadle wheel.
No matter what type of device you choose to make your yarn, you’ll need some fiber, called roving. Many spinners start out immediately with expensive wool and silk, but actually, a good extra bulky acrylic yarn makes a great first roving! Just take apart the strands, or plies, and use it like you would any other roving. Wool roving is the least expensive material after acrylic and is what most spinners start with.